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Science Education Thrives in Rochester, New York
When city officials in Rochester, New York, first learned of the AAAS Program, Science Linkages in the Community (SLIC), they could never have imagined that their fledgling educational effort would achieve self-sufficiency. Without AAAS seed money, city officials would not have had the opportunity to fulfill their vision of providing community-wide math, science, and technology resources to an underrepresented community.
Originally administered by the AAAS through its Education and Human Resources group, Rochesterís SLIC program today serves as a science resource center in math, science and technology.
The program benefits the young people who are economically disadvantaged underrepresented, among them minorities, women, and those with disabilities.
In September of 1993, Rochester officials applied to SLIC program for their community. The Rochester program, along with those in two other cities (Rapid City, South Dakota, and Chicago, Illinois), received funds to support a nine-month planning period, plus three years to establish themselves either as a non-profit, or to find a host institution. Rochester decided on the latter strategy.
"Rochester had a vision of how and what to provide for its community, and although it was ready for it, it just didnít have the resource base to attain such a goal," explains Betsy Brauer, program coordinator of SLIC in Rochester. "To have it initiated externally by AAAS was key to its fulfillment."
In its search for a host institution for the Rochester program, SLIC screened, interviewed and solicited many interested organizations, until finally deciding on the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC). The choice was based on the museumís stability, reputation and willingness to participate.
This ongoing relationship is mutually beneficial in many ways. The museum provided a home for SLIC, while in return, it acquired a permanent outreach component. SLIC functions as a hub for representatives from schools, human service and youth-serving organizations, city school districts, and churches. Currently, the Rochester SLIC program includes activities in two major areas: the Early Childhood Science and Math Initiative and the Community Technology Project.
Brauer, who has worked for SLIC since its inception, plays the role of both SLICís manager and science expert. After assessing the specific needs of the community, she decides on the appropriate level of science and math education that should be taught to the children. A zoologist by profession, Brauer has A passion for science and education. Through SLIC, she has the opportunity to share this passion in an urban environment. A lifelong member of AAAS, she about working on a AAAS-funded program.
Long-term, Brauer sees SLIC as a responsive organization, continuing to address the educational needs identified by the community and providing even more ways to improve science, math and technology education.